CUISINE: Portugese ADDRESS: 706 Hamilton Road DATE: March 7th, 2014
So, the blog is finally taking us into the realm of Portuguese food.
THE SUM TOTAL OF MEGAN’S PORTUGESE KNOWLEDGE
(this list IS exhaustive)
- my hairdresser, Diane, is Portugese.
If I was to judge all Portugese people based on my interactions with Diane, they are generous (Diane has helped out with hair for many of my students for shows and prom), sexy (she’s hot, y’all), enjoy Jersey Shore (and all built, overly-tanned men), and can talk about Kardashian Konspiracies (patent-pending) all the day long (I once showed her a picture of the similarities between Khloe Kardashian and OJ Simpson and BLEW. HER. MIND.)
But, despite her relative amazingness, and her ability to make my hair look so good my students sometimes think IM WEARING A WIG…
Real hair or plastic? I’ll never tell…
…I will not paint all Portuguese people with the same brush. Let’s dig deeper.
- They make a fine bun.
I feel like people are always talking about Portuguese buns whenever a potluck sandwich station is involved.
EVERY MOM EVER: We could just get meats and cheeses, and some nice buns…ooh, like a Portugese bun!!
- The language is apparently REALLY EASY to learn.
(December 2012. Megan and Ian’s living room. Cameron, the actor who’s too busy to read the blog, and Megan are laying on the couch. Ian is ignoring them at the computer)
MEGAN: Ian’s going to Brazil on Sunday.
CAMERON: That’s random. Why?
MEGAN: For work.
CAMERON: That’s fun.
MEGAN:You would think so, but not really. He basically has to work in factories all day, and because São Paulo is, like, pretty dangerous, the guys from Brazil just drive Ian around so he doesn’t turn down the wrong street and get sniped from a rooftop.
CAMERON: Okkkkk…are we going to watch a movie?
MEGAN: (to Ian) Nuni? Pay attention to us!! What are you doingggg?
IAN: (waving his hand) Shhhhh.
MEGAN: What are you looking at?
IAN: (staring intently at the computer) Shhhh. I’ve got to learn Portuguese by Saturday.
- I enjoy saying the word Portuguese in a Portuguese accent.
(End of list)
Given my total ignorance of Portuguese culture, it should come as no surprise that I had no idea what Portuguese food was like.
I did, however, know that everyone seems to love KING OF PIGS.
Which is probably why we ended up with our largest group ever for blog dinner, as 10 of us headed to REI DE LEITOES original location on Hamilton road on a marginally warm Friday night.
At this point, zero degrees is a warm day.
This week at school, I’ve been floating the idea of picking up the whole city of London and moving it somewhere more temperate. I’m still working out the logistics.
This pig is hauling barrels. Wha? Bennett’s fiancee stared at this statue long after Ian and I had pulled out of the parking lot, transfixed.
Around since 1992, REI DOS LEITOES (actually translated as “king of the piglets”—cuuuuute) opened a second location in Cherryhill village mall in 2009. My friend Erin (Famous on the blog as THE CHEESE POET) suggested we go to the original location as it had the “rustic charm”.
But when we arrived, the interior looked new and bland. They were renovating.
The only rustic charm was that the restaurant was absolutely FREEZING.
ME: Is there anything we could do about the heat? (smiling) It’s freezing in here!
ME: (looking plaintively)
WAITRESS: (sighing) It’s because of the renovations. (Pause) It’s all connected. (Wanders away)
My mom, who just arrived home from a month in Florida, just kept her coat on.
Well. She took it off for the picture. Maybe her TAN was keeping her warm?
(I’m having a hard time deciding if I should call the unsmiling waitress who served us “CURSORY” or “PERFUNCTORY”. )
Also joining us at KING OF PIGS:
Vita and Adriene, the bawdiest nuns in the abbey from the my recent production of The Sound of Music, along with Vita’s husband Drew.
Glad to see Drew got Ian’s memo about BLOG SHIRTS.
And of course, because this is the way that life works, Drew went to Oakridge, as did Ian, Erin and I.
FYI: Erin was friends with Drew’s sister and swam in their pool.
Also in attendance, my pal Andrea (who I pretty much only call Bennett, a fellow teacher and trivia enthusiast), and her new fiancé Erik.
I took 12 pictures. This was the best one.
Erik is king of the non-sequitur.
A GLIMPSE INTO THE MIND OF ERIK:
MEGAN: (to mom) So I got a puffer from the doctor today. I might have asthma.
BENNETT: (deadpan) You should really stop smoking.
MOM: Yeah. You should smoke pot instead! Much better for you.
Stop to note that if you know my mom, you know how funny this is. This is actually the only time I’ve ever heard her SAY “pot”. Once, when we were swimming in the backyard, she paused mid-breaststroke to note, “it smells like someone’s smoking… (voice drops to a whisper) GRASSSSS!”
ERIK: You have asthma? As someone with a lot of allergies, here’s a good tip: there’s a vein in the side of the neck? You can stick a pen in there? And breathe?
Bennett loves this about Erik. She even promised good quotes if they could join on the AZ RESTO TOUR.
We set about ordering some drinks.
MEGAN: Ooooh, what’s that?
My cappuccino came with a LOT of foam. Some might actually serve it in a cappuccino cup. Not these renegades.
DAD: (with a smile) Yes. Can you tell me about what “Portuguese Spirits” are?
PERFUNCTORY WAITRESS: What?
DAD: (Pointing in the menu) Portuguese spirits?
PERFUNCTORY WAITRESS: (glancing) Oh. Brandy?
DAD: (deflated) Ok. Well, I’ll have beer then. The Sagres.
PERFUNCTORY WAITRESS: We’ll see if we have it.
Dad assured me that Superbock, another Portugese beer that he hadn’t tried before, was fine, although lighter than he expected.
DAD: Most German bock beers are dark and full-flavoured.
Erin, The Cheese Poet, had been to the King of Pigs before, so she was giving us advice on what to order.
ERIN: Drew, what are you getting?
DREW: Just the chicken.
ERIN: (Disapprovingly) the pork cutlets are really good. They come in a red pepper sauce.
MEGAN: Over the chicken?
ERIN: No, no. They have a combo. The chicken is what made them famous.
SO. IT. IS.
Keeping track of all the conversations going on at this loud and boisterous table was almost impossible.
A FEW SNIPPETS:
MOM: You know that song? (singing) “I have a guitar….and its strings…”
DAD: Walk Off the World, or something?
MEGAN, ADRIENE, VITA and BENNETT: (in unison) OooOOH!
ERIK: Chicken Baby Back ribs? How did they get those? Wouldn’t they be really small?
BENNETT: That’s a combo. Chicken AND baby back ribs!
ADRIENE: Vita ate ALL the olives.
VITA: (eyeing the other end of the table) Are your parents eating their olives down there?
ADRIENE: I showed my fiancé the movie hairspray the other day. He totally thought the girl playing Amber was Carrie Underwood!
MEGAN: Oh god, no!
ADRIENE: I was like, “that’s Brittany Snow!” (Pause) I don’t know why he couldn’t see it. He can tell the difference between Candice Bergen and Martha Stewart…
VITA: They’re not even TOUCHING those olives down there!
First out of the kitchen was the cheese and prosciutto platter that my parents ordered.
ERIN: Are you guys tasting this roscuotto? Homemade. Fresh- shaved.
MEGAN: So good. What kind of cheese is this?
ADRIENE: I don’t know.
MEGAN: Mom, what kind of cheese is this?
MOM: It just said “cheese”.
MEGAN: Cheese Poet?
ERIN: No idea.
It was good cheese.
Vita also ordered an appetizer:
Grilled octopus in an onion and parsley sauce.
MEGAN: (trying a bite) Oh my god. So good!!
ERIN: I would eat that on top of a salad EVERY DAY.
VITA: I eat this all the time.
MEGAN: You’re not Portuguese, are you? You’re Italian. Right?
DREW: Pretty much the same thing.
It was moist, and….and…(I’ve never wanted to use the term “succulent” so badly. I will abstain.) And the sauce was herbaceous and savoury. Yummmm.
The entrees took considerably longer to come out, but we amused ourself by tasting the house made hot sauce and being considerably louder than everyone else in the restaurant.
DAD: This hot sauce is HOT!
MEGAN: It IS Hot!!!
IAN: (dryly) So, it’s accurately named.
But when our entrees did come out, they were saucy, meaty and IMPRESSIVE.
Something tells me Erik likes potatoes…
Bennett was happy that Erik’s food came out first so he could give us the review:
BENNETT: (proudly)He’s very descriptive. Erik, what do you think of the chicken??
ERIK: Well, the chicken is some of the best I’ve ever had. It’s tangy and spicy, bit doesn’t overpower the chicken taste, which is excellent.
BENNETT: (prompting) What does the taste remind you of?
ERIK: Ovens. Oven-roasted chicken.
BENNETT: (disappointed) Its usually crazier than that.
MEGAN: Mom, how’s yours? How are your ribs?
MOM: (smiling, mouth full, a little bit of sauce in the corner of her mouth) Mmm…mmm!
The veggies, while plentiful, were definitely from a bag.
Chorizo and chips.
Dad got the chorizo sausage, which he’s a big fan of from his travels to Louisiana in the past.
He said he found the sausage quite smoky, coursely ground, and not nearly as spicy as North American sausages.
And to my dad, “not as spicy” means “not as good”.
I had heard that the roasted potatoes were the way to go, and most of us got them.
She was noticeably disappointed by the potatoes.
ERIN: These are soggy. Not as good as they used to be at all.
IAN: These are, like, boiled potatoes. They’re like those potatoes that come in a can.
That being said, we ate ALL of them.
The other sides were also fine: fries, not fresh cut, bag veggies and generic green salad.
But the chicken, as Erik said, was juicy, tender, and the sauce was delicious.
Adriene had considerably more trouble with her side ribs.
MEGAN: How’s your stuff, Adriene?
ADRIENE: (try hard to cut her meat) It’s good.
MEGAN: As a WordSmith, are you giving me “it’s good?”
ADRIENE: No. No.
MEGAN: are those ribs? Beef ribs?
ADRIENE: I don’t know. I think I’m cutting meat right now. It might be bone.
MEGAN: (writing) so you’re saying they’re tough?
Erin, who had been there before, had been trying to talk people into getting split plates of chicken and pork cutlets, which she described as having “this pepper sauce on them and mmmmmmmm”, but on this visit claimed that for her, “it was all about the chicken’s vinegary, spicy sauce. The chicken had way more flavour than the cutlets.”
The chicken was definitely the highlight. Heavily sauced, perfectly cooked and juicy. And there was so much of it, I wasn’t planning on eating anything else. I didn’t even come close to cleaning my plate.
ERIN: You have to have a custard tart.
ANDREA: Custard Tart!!
VITA: (in my ear) CUSTARD TART!!!
ME: (looking at the menu) Maybe I want a coconut raspberry tart…
ERIN: (to the perfunctory waitress) Is that coconut tart homemade? Made the same as the custard tart?
ERIN: Sometimes you gotta know the right questions to ask.
And the tart was delicious:
The crust was super buttery and flaky, and the custard inside was smooth if maybe a little firm.
ANDREA: Erik, what do you think of the tart?
ERIK: It’s sweet and soothing like old people on a hot day.
That’s not to say I wouldn’t have had 5 more.
VITA: Mmmm. Next time we should get the tart platter.
ADRIENE: THERE’S A TART PLATTER???
VITA: No. I just made it up. But there should be. I’m just spitballing ideas here.
I had a great time at King of Pigs. The mix of family and friends at this particularly blog dinner had me laughing (demurely, of course, as I always do) so hard my stomach ached.
I hate to say that my expectations were too high, but I was hoping for magic. They definitely have their specialties: great sauce, tarts, apps and chicken. But the sides are so blah, the service so so-so, the atmosphere SO generic, and the potatoes so WET, it just didn’t wow me.
I will hold onto the crown and sceptre for now, King of Piglets. Let me know when the renos are finished.
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